So it is probably time to give meaning and structure to the contents of the last post, having taunted and tormented you with it long enough. The idea was really quite simple, though I never expected such a large bump in stats. Jeez guys, it isn’t that people need to hear the same shit regurgitated a thousand different ways, but in my brief examination of the whole “make money online” nonsense, I have found a bewildering lack of thought and foresight. Of the handful of books I flipped through in preparation for this little thought-experiment, the same dull, tired and unimaginative information is disseminated time and time again. I’ll save you a bunch of money (and a whole lot of time) by distilling the contents of most of these books, blogs and articles into one easy-to-understand sentence –
Put links up everywhere and hope people will click them.
Um… No. Really, no. This is the equivalent of the kid shouting “Hey mom, lookit me. Lookit what I did. I set my head on fire, mom. Lookit me. I’m gonna be famous on YouTube. Aaargh. My head. Aaaaarghhh.” It has the same aura of desperation and unoriginality which flows from the pores of people who let camera crews follow them around as they go about their day to day business, and just because the ploy worked for Ozzie Osbourne does not hold that people want to see other former stars do the same. It’s the fat guy in the cowboy hat, sweating profusely as he hawks used cars, talking faster in the hopes that the heart attack he had before going on air doesn’t fully hit until his paid minutes are up. If the notion that links alone are the solution to everyone’s money problems, then things are much worse than I thought in online marketing.
This approach is so wrong in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to begin. I find it incredible that people are still writing about the way marketing was done in the late nineties, and that people are still buying into this crap is even more worrying. The only thing accomplished by providing countless links to one single page (for there is always a nexus point people are pushed to in traditional marketing) is to give people the opportunity to purchase an item. It’s a one-shot deal. It’s a quick fuck up a side alley, which both parties will think no more of come the morning. And the kicker? People don’t learn anything from this technique.
Before you start complaining that I’m being too dismissive of putting links into every forum post, blog comment and tweet, I’ll lay out some simple facts for you to ruminate over. A sale – specifically a download – does not guarantee that people will bother to read / listen / watch the download. It’s not the only problem you will face if you’re looking at marketing as an attractive money-making opportunity, but it is the big one – if the people who have purchased from a link once don’t follow through by enjoying the download, what is there to bring them back? The old methods of shouting attractions out to a largely disinterested audience have been replaced by infinitely more complex interactions by salesmen and “audience” (for they are such), people advertising wares must change their behavior also.
The role of marketing is NOT to sell things. Selling things is a by-product of advertising, but it is not the primary reason to advertise. The true role of marketing is to change the perception of those who are being advertised to. The main objective is to build a base of customers who will return again and again to buy more things, and this is the reason links are pointless. I can’t state this enough, because the pervasive attitude of the books on the subject are so far from the mark that they give a false impression of human psychology. We aren’t wired up in a way which looking at meaningless links will affect in any meaningful way.
How often have you heard people say they record television shows so that they can skip the adverts?
We remember things by context and narrative, so by engaging in a discussion with people, marketers stand to have a much better impact. The way that such a discussion can be created – to create a relationship with consumers which might last longer than that one solitary purchase – is not in the realms of brain surgery. I’m talking about some really simple and interesting things here. It doesn’t have to be of the scale nor complexity of a massive ARG, and it really doesn’t have to take a year to plan. A little fun and experimentation can go a very long way, and I’ll go one further than that- if the first link on a Google search is the link to the product, I’m gonna buy it, and then forget to check out the rest of the links.
By providing a little difficulty into the process of getting something, and by making me work for the thing I am looking for, I am forced to read about it further, and (hopefully, if you have done your job right) get more enthusiastic about the process of getting my hands on it. This increases my odds of actually reading / listening / watching the damn thing, so it is in people’s best interest to have the point of sale lower in Google rankings than the material which discusses the product. It’s part of that long-term relationship-building which will lead to interest in future material from the same source. There’s no secret to getting people returning time and time again. Oh wait… I haven’t explained the image yet, have I?
A minor confession here – the pic won’t help you. Much like the rest of the information online about marketing, which panders to instant gratification and completely ignores any long-term strategies for the extended shelf life of the product, it is a phantom. It’s Keyser Sozer. The truth of the central phrase (in clear English) is all about the interaction with whoever is looking at it. It sells itself as a path to something, and that is precisely what this post is all about. I’ve been here before, and I still hold that people aren’t trying hard enough to keep people coming back to them time and time again, because serious and prolonged investment in propagating the image of a product (more than “Hey, click the link dude”) is the most important part of any enterprise. Also, by drip-feeding information and making people follow a trail of crumbs to the product, which is a way to have a conversation with purchasers, the mess of links which are clogging up sites will soon dwindle.
This is about being smart, as much as it is about being visible. This visibility, so lauded by mediocre hands, has made many products anathema to me. I have no idea what Covonia (or however it is spelled) is, but because of the prevalence of the adverts, I now have no interest in ever purchasing it. I hate those adverts. Being very visible can HARM you.
“Hey mom, lookit me. Lookit what I did. I set my head on fire, mom.”